Going boating can be a wonderful way to explore. However, boating can carry significant safety hazards if you aren’t careful. Without proper precautions in place, a boating mishap could easily lead to extensive property damage, various injuries and—in severe cases—drowning or death. Here are a few helpful tips for a safe boating season!
“A Clean Boat is a Happy Boat”
Thoroughly clean and review all equipment stored on the vessel… a little housekeeping will lead to a more organized and successful boating season!
Hire a local detailer to clean and wax your vessel. A boat that is properly coated with wax will stay clean all season long and save you hours of scrubbing during the summer.
“Consult the Experts when it comes to maintenance!”
Consult your local boat yard or a local marine contractor to make sure your vessels maintenance work has been performed to the specifications of the boat builder, rigger, or engine manufacturer. Take their advice and lean on their expertise. Short cuts on maintenance will lead to short seasons on the water.
Vessel Surveys are valuable in many ways, insurance carriers need them to assess the value of your vessel, and boat owners can use surveys to thoroughly inspect/evaluate their vessels.
“Safety is Everything!”
Closely inspect all safety equipment. Check for expiration dates, dry-rot damage, seized zippers, and expired batteries. Label all equipment and provide clear path to access. Replace old equipment with new equipment and consult the USCG Resource Center for important safety requirements.
“Bad Weather will lead to a Bad Day”
Before planning a trip or heading out on the water, consult NOAA Marine Weather forecasts and keep an eye out for any updates or changes in weather. Stay in a safe harbor if conditions are rough.
“Create a Float-Plan”
Before any boating adventures, create a “Float Plan” and communicate the plan with all members of the crew ahead of departure. If heading offshore, communicate with local harbor officials and leave a “float-plan” with someone who is not joining the voyage. Ask them to check in on you at the time that you expect to make it to your destination.
“Learn the Rules”
Study and learn the USCG “Rules of the Road”. Obtain a copy of the rules and keep it onboard your vessel, as well as a tide chart and some old fashioned navigational charts. An informed boater is a safe boater. Enroll in a RI Boater Safety class.
“The Captain makes the rules!”
Before you leave the dock, explain your vessel to any guests and give them rules to follow to keep them safe. While underway, all passengers should always be seated and all passengers should be able to obtain three points of contact. Do not allow for passengers to go unattended. Your crew are your responsibility and the captain makes the rules.
“Take Your Time Cap!”
Never rush while underway or planning to get underway. Test the engines and systems of your boat while you are still secured to the dock or mooring. Stow your gear, do some housekeeping, prepare the crew, and depart in a calm manner.
“Never drink and operate.”
Alcohol consumption leads to 70 percent of all drowning incidents underway. Do not operate under the influence, never let your passengers consume too much alcohol, and never allow an inebriated person to swim off the vessel or walk alone in a marina.